On Saturday 14th April my hometown of Abingdon-on-Thames hosted the first-ever World Bun Throwing Championships.
The charity event took place at the Abingdon Vale Cricket Club on Culham Road and was organised to find the town’s best Bun Throwers who would win a place to join the Mayor and other dignitaries atop the old County Hall at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Bun Throwing in June 2012.
|Banner for the Abingdon World Bun Throwing Championship 2012 at Abingdon Vale Cricket Club|
Bun Throwing dates back to 1761 and the events are held to celebrate special national or royal milestones. The Bun Throwing events see currant buns (also known as ‘Rejoicing Buns’) thrown to the crowd of townsfolk stood in the market place below. With crowds at Bun Throwings getting larger the Mayor of Abingdon-on-Thames Mike Badcock decided that those people at the back of the crowd may be missing out on catching buns so he set up the World Bun Throwing Championships to find the best throwing arms in the town.
|Under the World Bun Throwing Championship banner in the town's market place - the location for the Bun Throwing events in the town|
According to reports in the Abingdon Herald and the Oxfordshire Guardian between 400 and 500 buns were ordered for the event and a BBC news report says that 250 buns were thrown. The Mayor said that some of the younger competitors ate their buns while waiting to throw! Competitors were asked to register at the event and select the number of bun throw attempts they would like to have. Each bun thrown cost £1 with the money going to the Mayor’s three charities – the Felix Fund, Macmillan Nurses and the War Widows Association.
|The rules of the World Bun Throwing Championship|
Emily and I arrived in town at 11.45am and headed to register at the clubhouse, the World Bun Throwing Championships were due to begin at 2pm so we had some time for a trip to the bun throwing-themed cafe Throwing Buns, a quick game of Crazy Golf in the Abbey Meadows and a general wander around the town before the competition began.
At 2pm we got back to the Abingdon Vale Cricket Club ground on Culham Road to find a large crowd of eager competitors, spectators and the media. Over 500 people attended the event and the Town Crier welcomed everyone before the Mayor started proceedings with a ceremonial first-throw of a bun – marking a distance of around 18m I believe.
The Mayor and the team at Abingdon Vale Cricket Club had prepared for the event with a trial throw (in February) and on Friday 13th April a group had been filmed and interviewed by the local TV news, but the first official bun thrown at the World Bun Throwing Championships was the Mayor’s.
|Town Mayor Mike Badcock throws the first bun at the Abingdon World Bun Throwing Championship|
The competitors were then invited to line-up with their registration tickets at the ready and then one-by-one take their place on the stage and attempt to throw their currant bun the furthest.
The playing zone was marked out to a distance of 50 metres and was similar to a Shot Putt/Hammer Throw field with an out-of-bounds area on either side – where the brave spectators took their places.
|The field of play|
Local competitor Mick Neil was the first person to step-up to launch his buns, but not before being interviewed by tournament commentator Bill Reynolds from BBC Radio Oxford. Mick’s buns landed past the Mayor’s attempt and he set the bar with a new 'World Record' of over 20m.
|The crowd looks on as I have a throw of a currant bun at the Abingdon World Bun Throwing Championship|
I was the second person from the town to step-up for a throw and had selected four fine currant buns for my attempt at the title. After a couple of throws between the 18 and 21 metre marks I hit a personal best of 25m 10cm to set (and temporarily hold) the new World Record and clubhouse lead. In the event report on the excellent Abingdon Blog, it's noted that the World Record was broken a number of times in this inaugural event!
|Launching my first bun at the World Bun Throwing Championship|
After my throws our group of me, Emily, my brother Jon and his girlfriend Kim took-up a place on the sidelines to watch the action unfold.
As mentioned, the spectators were lined-up on the out-of-bounds area and we soon found out how dangerous this position was when Kim was hit by a stray currant bun that a player had launched to the left (at around the 17m mark). Jon retrieved this bun as a souvenir of the special occasion.
Some of the bun throwers were managing some tremendous distances, with a number of players hitting the 40m+ mark, but a few players exceeded the magic 50m mark and the judges required an extra tape measure to gauge the distances!
|The judges measure another throw|
The throwers adopted a number of stances, approaches and throwing styles. With bun flattening, under-arm and over-arm throws and some people trying out frisbee and discus-style throws. Some of those who threw the furthest had fashioned the buns into a ball shape to get the best aerodynamic qualities from the buns.
|The buns after throwing - note the different shapes and sizes they have been moulded into!|
The contest continued with a steady stream of over 200 people attempting to become the first-ever World Bun Throwing Champions. There were prizes on offer in the male, female, 10-15 year-old and under-10’s categories. The male and female winners would each gain a place as a Bun Thrower at the Royal Bun Throwing at 6pm on Sunday 3rd June 2012.
The winning man was Danny Parry with an awesome distance of 58m 7cm, Selina Wallis won the women’s prize with a distance of 29m 7cm. Graham Beer won the 10-15 year-old prize with a distance of 52m 8cm and Tiego Logan threw 20m 8cm in the under-10’s competition!
The first-ever World Bun Throwing Championships was a great occasion and a brilliant way to enhance the tradition of Bun Throwing to mark special and royal milestones. While I didn’t manage to win a place as a Bun Thrower I really enjoyed the day, the chance to compete and see so many people getting involved in the action. It was also great to meet the prolific Abingdon blogger Alastair Fear and his blogging dog Harry. I’ve been reading the Abingdon Blog for a number of years and it’s been a great way to keep in touch with all the happenings in the town since I moved away in 2000.
Following the event we also spotted three of the competitors holding their own unofficial Bun Throwing contest beside the River Thames and getting some practice in ready for the 2013 World Championships!
After competing for the chance to be a Bun Thrower I can’t wait to once again be a Bun Catcher at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Bun throwing in the town in June – it’ll be the 12th Bun Throwing I’ve been to since 1980 and the town’s 33rd since 1761.
- Abingdon Vale Cricket Club
- Abingdon Town Council
- The Felix Fund
- Macmillan Nurses
- War Widows Association
- Abingdon Blog
- Harry Dog Blog
- BBC News "Abingdon's Bun Throwing Championships"
- Abingdon Herald "Bun throwing ceremony needs some champion chuckers"
- Oxford Mail "Hot cross buns"
- Oxfordshire Guardian "Abingdon to host inaugural bun throwing championship"
- Abingdon Blog "Inaugural World Bun Throwing Championships – world record broken – unofficially"